Lauren Spierer

Dateline: Tue 05 Jul 2011

The Indianapolis Star has redeemed itself with coverage the last couple weeks of the Lauren Spierer case in Bloomington.

Especially meaningful was the article that ran Sunday June 26 on Page 1, "Vanished: Following the last-known steps of Lauren Spierer," written by Robert King and Najib Animy. Unfortunatley, the link is no longer active, so it's no use posting it.

But the story was thorough and thoughtful, and it included a map tracing the movements of the IU student the night and early morning she vanished, as best known.

This case, for a variety of reasons, has attracted the public's attention. The discovery Sunday of a woman's body in Fall Creek in Indianapolis raised hopes, not only for the missing IU student from New York but for a Noblesville great-grandmother who also has disappeared. The Star reported today that the body is not Miss Spierer or Dorothy Mae Heard of Noblesville, but another woman.

A couple minor points: I'm told that Indiana University officials exerted so much effort and publicity to find Lauren because they want to send a message to parents that the university takes such matters very seriously. This is, after all, not only a calamity for the family and friends of Miss Spierer, but a PR nightmare for IU.

In particular, I was told, IU hopes to reassure well-off families from the East Coast, like the Spierers, that the university will do all in its considerable power to trace a missing young woman (or young man). It was suggested that there may be a money angle here, since the university does not want potential students and their families to fear coming to IU/Bloomington.

Although, in truth, the university has no blame whatsoever. Students make choices that are beyond any institution's control. Still, playing the devil's advocate here, IU in the past was ranked a top party school. That's a rep no Big 10 institution wants to cultivate. If it was possible to mount a PR campaign to challenge that, whether it's reality or pure image, now is the time.

As for other coverage of Lauren Spierer, Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana pointed his readers to a blog written by Tony Gatto of New York City. In my own web research, I'd already found Gatto's blog. Here's the link if you want to read his insights on the case, which tend to be more risk-taking than traditional daily journalism:

http://www.tonygatto.com/

Comments

Seneca [Member] said:

The link:

http://www.indystar.com/article/20110626/LOCAL/106260358/Vanished-Following-last-known-steps-Lauren-Spierer

2011-07-05 21:16:44

ruthholl [Member] said:

Oh, man, you are the best. Thank you Seneca.

2011-07-05 21:37:01

Terry [unverified] said:

Link not working for me at 10:30 Tuesday. This happens a lot, even with stuff that supposedly is exempt from the 7-day rule -- and this one is past that, so who knows. Mike would make it right, but of course he's gone.

It was a good story -- kept me up wondering about my own young college woman. Also compelling earlier on were the two pieces by Star interns from Bloomington. Good luck to those young writers/photographers.

What do people think about the more recent coverage, suggesting the Spierers are too involved? Or, are the B-town police disengaged because she's not local?

2011-07-05 21:39:05

ruthholl [Member] said:

OK, help me out -- what was the article suggesting Spierers are too involved?
I think Star ran a USA Today piece, talking about the code of silence among young people when something like this happens. I appreciated that angle.
I don't know about B-town cops. I suspect they are just overwhelmed. But it does seem they missed some opportunities early on. Someone, somewhere, pointed out they might have been tougher if the friends had been less wealthy, with connections. Lawyers are there to protect people from cop intrusion, and these kids lawyered up fast. I would point more to the parents of the friends than the Bloomington police. They must feel very frustrated, because it is a cop's nature to want to get the bad guy(s).
I think, it seems obvious, in fact, that the Spierers themselves suspect a friend or "friends" have some involvement. The Gatto blog explores all this.
Yes, good luck to the Star interns. I was critical early on of Star coverage, but it's improved drastically. King had another article I liked; I could not locate it tonite.
I'm old school. Gotta go thru a pile of papers on my porch...
Yeah, Mike would have made it right! Amen to that.

2011-07-05 22:06:19

soylent green [unverified] said:

I am confident the Bloomington Police Department detectives working this case are very competent and are personally agognizing over this young lady's disappearance. As a police officer, I am utterly amazed at the careless behavior and reckless acts I witness every weekend right here in Broad Ripple. The same type behavior that probably played a significant role in Miss Spierers' case. These kids think they are invincible when on campus and don't adjust their actions when in the "real world." Getting drunk/high in your dorm room, fraternity, sorority, or inside your apartment does NOT have the same potential consequences as doing the same in public. Shame on her "friends" for leaving town and lawyering up. I have spent more time looking for a stranger's lost dog than they did looking for a lost friend. I am anxious to see if any of them fail to return to register for fall classes. Would love to know which, if any, are struggling with guilt and are acting out. If this was the act of the boogey man, he was quick to find what he was hunting for that night. However, if I was a gambling man, I would bet the house on her friends being involved with her disappearance. Too late to get search warrants for all their cars. I would subpoena their cell phone records and see who called/texted whom after she went missing. These kids are not local. Search what they know...Lake Lemon, Lake Monroe and the Hoosier National Forest. Chances are this has all been done. Fathers, teach your daughters well. DON'T drink at bars till you are 21. DON'T have a fake id. DON'T do drugs. NEVER walk anywhere alone at night. KNOW who your friends are. Thoughts and prayers with the Spierer family and the detectives working the case.

2011-07-05 23:28:35

Seneca [Member] said:

Type into Google:

Vanished: Following the last-known steps of Lauren Spierer

The Google page that pops up:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&biw=&bih=&q=Vanished%3A+Following+the+last-known+steps+of+Lauren+Spierer

The first item brings up the article; there is a bit of white space at the top, probably for a pix.

Try it. It works (at least it did for me).

2011-07-06 04:53:15

Seneca [Member] said:

Many other articles from other sources follow.

2011-07-06 04:58:27

ruthholl [Member] said:

Seneca, it worked for me, too. At the top of the page, however, is the Star's disclaimer: Unfortunately, that page could not be found. This time I was patient and scrolled down, and there it is...
Thanks.
Soylent green, you are right on the money. One reason I wanted to write about this is because women I exercise with -- in our 60s and beyond -- were talking about the Spierer class yesterday, and they were all amazed and appalled that she was even out, at age 20, at a bar, at that hour of the night. In their day, they had curfews, dad would have "driven me right back home," etc. Kids have much more personal freedom and absolutely no street smarts; the fable of adolescence seems to extend into a sense of being invulnerable in their 20s as well.
Kilroy's is also a big loser in this. I know kids get fake IDs but c'mon...
More later.

2011-07-06 05:56:27

Seneca [Member] said:

You're wecome.

2011-07-06 06:28:53

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Some folks are critical of the police investigation, as if the cops woke up one morning and declared:

"Gee, I hope this controversy and missing woman thing go on for years. Love the PR. Makes us look real effective." Come on, folks. get real.

IU has made more advances in east-coast recruiting than any other big Ten college. For a good reason. Its academic programs are sound and affordable. And it solves the 'get away from home mentality that some families face when college choices are made.

IU doesn't want this incident to damage those gains.

It probably won't.

Solid karma to the family and the police investigating this miserable case. My heart aches. There but for the grace of God...

And it helps to reinforce the warnings posted above, for all parents of college-aged students. Mine is away in grad school, and I don't miss the chance to say these things again. Eye-roll notwithstanding.

2011-07-06 08:53:44

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

I did some of The Star's coverage on the Jill Behrman case ten years ago. I followed it very closely even after I left the paper. Though a suspect was eventually discovered and convicted, I was never satisfied that the whole Behrman crime was ever solved. There is another unsolved homicide in the Bloomington area. The victim's name is Crystal Grubb. As an old police reporter, I suspect that the Grubb case and the Spierer cases, as well as Behrman, are linked. I say that because I covered a series of murders of young gay men and male hustlers in the 1980s. Again, a suspect was convicted, but he had at least one accomplice (a librarian from Indiana State University), whose name surfaced repeatedly but was never brought to justice.

I do think that a reward sum well above $100,000 might be what's needed at this point because of all the time that has elapsed.

2011-07-06 09:48:02

hendy [Member] said:

There's a tendency to second-guess, like the sleuths we hope to be, regarding what the BPD has done. While it's true that they haven't turned up a body, many hundreds of people have launched from Smallwood and McNutt to search for Lauren, and it's rattled the community. You can't go 100 yards from Bloomington to Bloomfield, Nashville, Spencer, Bedford, etc. without seeing a poster. Volunteers put up those posters, slogged through forests-- removing ticks and getting nicely bitten-- in the hopes of finding Lauren.

The BPD have tried all of the tricks they know. Tony Gatto and other speculators are going over the same tracks already covered as though they were great NYC detectives, but they're not, IMHO. Is someone lying? Maybe, but the truth is probably something we just won't know until we know.

2011-07-06 10:17:31

DK [unverified] said:

"Kids have much more personal freedom and absolutely no street smarts; the fable of adolescence seems to extend into a sense of being invulnerable in their 20s as well."

It isn't the "fable of adolescence" that has caused this. It is how we, as a society as a whole, raise these adults. We have anti-gun groups using victims of gun violence who are in their late teens and early 20s by calling them "children." We have a public education complex that seems to treat the early teens and older teens the same they do those in grade school. The rules are so stiff now, that the kids can't learn to do something stupid because doing something stupid could be the end of your educational career anymore. They are taught that government is the solver of all problems. Kids aren't forced to split wood for heat, or milk cows for milk, or care for chickens to get eggs, pigs for bacon.

We have totally separated the real human growth period that used to take place from about age 11/12 to the late teens. It used to be that your 16-24 year old young adult female couldn't change a tire. That seems to have now extended to the male half of the species as well. I also don't think schools teach logic skills anymore. Chelsea Clinton said in a speech that there is pressure on teachers to just teach the test. Basically, tell kids what things are, why they are, and just tell them to memorize concepts, not actually think logically about them. So kids memorize everything, they use no logic to discover what they are memorizing, because they are just told either in class or by books/internet cheat websites. Don't even get me started by the direction of "group projects." There seems to be a huge push for "group education." This also reduces the ability to learn to think by yourself. What can happen to a young adult who has focused more on group learning than individual learning? They apply it to their own personal lives. What happens when the group they hang out with are a bunch of hardcore partying types? They become the same.

And we wonder why we are having the problems we are seeing manifest today, across the entire spectrum of young adults.

2011-07-06 15:15:51

DK [unverified] said:

"I do think that a reward sum well above $100,000 might be what's needed at this point because of all the time that has elapsed."

One would think the BPD has consulted with the prosecutor's office on this case. It seems at this point, more likely than not, that what happened was:
#1: Someone(s) was with her and killed her. The reasons for the homicide could be many.
#2: Someone(s) provided her with something which conflicted with her medical condition and she died. They don't want to get caught up for whatever they did that was against the law, so they disposed of the body somehow.

It may only be one person who knows, but the other friends may be guilty of other past crimes. Either way, they are wise to lawyer up. Going back to the Monroe Co. prosecutor's office: They likely need to get a time line of exactly who was where and when. That way, an offer to avoid prosecution could be made to one or more people in return for answering questions. The problem is no one wants a potential killer to get a free pass.

As far as getting an attorney, it is a smart move. Even if you didn't have anything to do with the disappearance, you may have had something to do with the fake ID, or drugs. Then you have the whole Duke Lacrosse fiasco, the rush to judgement type incidents. Again, if these kids have the money, getting heavy hitting defense attorneys, even if they have done nothing wrong (outside say underage drinking, poss. fake IDs, etc), would seem to be an understandable move.

2011-07-06 15:26:21

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

DK, that may be the most rambling explanation of current-day teen trends I've ever read.

I read it twice and still don't get it.

Are you trying to say that kids get into trouble because they're not 1950s rugged? Cause if you are, that's just silly.

I want to give the authorities a lot of leeway here. No professional police officer purposely screws up something like this. I'm betting that one or more of the folks who saw her last, know(s) more than (s)he is/are letting on.

And sadly, I've concluded she's probably deceased now. The parents are likely in that same boat, hoping against hope, but realistic. They appear to be confident, smart folks, who wouldn't engage in open mass fiction needlessly.

I can't even imagine their grief and pain. I'd probably not be able to eat for weeks. Or sleep. There's little comfort to "not knowing." Unless there's solid hope that she's alive.

Which, at then end of the day, I doubt anyone believes.

There's no Hallmark card or church service for "missing." For their sake, I hope answers are found soon. And that over-used but appropriate word: closure.

George's observations were priceless. Thanks, guy, for your reporting back then, and for your learned view now.


2011-07-06 19:08:59

PeteM [Member] said:

So, in all the years kids have been drinking underage in Bloomington bars, how many disappearances occurred?

2011-07-06 19:11:54

PeteM [Member] said:

Oops, hit post before I was finished...I think that associating underage barhopping with the possible fate of this poor girl is classic causation without correlation. Not a single one of us knows what actually happened to her, but people are already pointing fingers of blame at the activities of college students when it comes to drinking? It's not too much to ask for getting all the facts first before laying blame, no?

2011-07-06 19:15:33

ruthholl [Member] said:

But this was not simply underage drinking at a bar; this was losing her purse, leaving her shoes, cell phone and then the drama of the man fight. Even from what we do know, it was a lot for one young woman (without benefit of a girlfriend, or so it seems) to handle. The male-female ratio of her activities that night are troubling in and of themselves, in my view.
So it's not just a case of having a few too many beers and staggering home at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., as many have done. It was classic risk-taking behavior, with no safety net.
From what I've read, those facts are established.
I will also say: raising children is the hardest thing in the world. How do you prepare them for the evil that is real in the world?
I think I understand some of what DK is saying, I'm just too tired tonight to try and go over it.
Later.

2011-07-06 20:36:42

DwightSchrute [Member] said:

Hey George. Are you referencing Larry Eyler from Indiana?

2011-07-06 21:59:24

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

All the behavior you mentioned, is apparently "not in question," as the detetives say.

She took a lot of chances. The late hour, drinking too much, leaving your shoes somewhere, leaving or walking or hanging around with no girlfriends but plenty of male "friends."

You have to think that even one more female in the group, however intoxicated, would've raised the suspicious cautious female quotient a few points. Collectively. And this gentle inquiry:

How can a bar with the reputation it has, not notice a female patron leaving very early in the morning, without shoes? Exactly how drunk are you to leave your shoes somewhere?

2011-07-07 06:41:07

PeteM [Member] said:

Ruth,

Again, the problem is that until it is determined what actually happened here, it is possibly premature to blame late night barhopping as the main cause of the assumed tragedy. That's not to say that irresponsible clubbing is a risky thing to do, but it hasn't been established that it caused this girl's disappearance.

If I'm not mistaken, assumptions about the Jill Behrman murder were blown up when both the murderer and the chain of events related to the crime turned out to be completely different than assumptions.

One way to teach a child about the evils of the world isn't to assume that the majority of the world is evil and dangerous.

2011-07-07 06:58:31

hendy [Member] said:

We're talking a 90lb, 5' tall woman with a heart problem. It's tough to tell what might have happened. IMHO, she probably came to an ugly end. But we don't know. There's no habeas corpus. Speculation will continue to be just that. I feel for her parents; there is no conclusion.

2011-07-07 08:20:58

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

To Dwight:

Yes, I was referencing Larry Eyler. I covered a lot of that -- beginning with the murders of nine young male hustlers from the Central Indiana area whose bodies were strewn along I-70 to Terre Haute and on the Interstate up to Chicago, where Eyler operated with yet another accomplice.

While nothing connects those cases what is happening in Bloomington, I do believer should think more broadly about the possibility of serial murders and the involvement of more than one person in these crimes.

I lived in the Bloomington area and being the type of reporter I was, I would sometimes go looking for Behrman when I would get random tips, including those from psychics. Ask my youngest son, we spent several evenings driving the area between Yellowwood, Lake Monroe, Lake Lemon, and back roads around Nashville to Ellettsville and Paragon. I know that region is rugged, wooded, rural, remote and it is not just a possibility, but likely that Lauren's body will not be found.

Though there has been a conviction in the Behrman case, I have always had a feeling that it wasn't the whole story. Police may want to revisit the facts of that crime and align them with what is known about the Grubb case and the sketchy details of Lauren. I would think they should broaden their profiling to include sex offenders, domestic violence and assaults of persons and animals going back for a ten-year period. I would also review missing female cases in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

They might also be interested in information surrounding a concept of someone being out at that time of night to go to or return from a job, possibly a bartender, delivery person, tow truck operator... And finally this...if I were a cop, I would be paying close attention to the facts surrounding the body of the woman found in Fall Creek last weekend. They are probably totally unrelated cases, but, maybe not.

What is interesting in the Grubb and Spierer cases is that both were impaired and ultimately separated from a group they were in. It was the isolation that made them vulnerable. One other thing, the stories I have read about the Grubb case are deficient regarding the cause of death. Surely there was an autopsy. Police might want to revisit the cause of her death more closely.

Anyway...it is a tragedy beyond words. My heart truly goes out to the families.

I talked to several families whose sons were killed by Eyler and Co.; I also developed a good relationship with the Behrmans that continued after I left the Star (in fact on 9/11 I was interviewing John Walsh of America's Most Wanted on the Bloomington campus about Jill Behrman's disappearance.)

Anyway...

Ultimately, all I hope is for huge breaks in the Grubb and Spierer situation.

And again...these are the ramblings of an old reporter who is now far removed from newspapering.


2011-07-07 08:33:08

Jason [unverified] said:

I've always thought the circumstances surrounding the Molly Datillo disappearance to be similar to what you're suggesting Mr. Stuteville. The FBI has theorized that there are 75-120 unidentified serial killers operating in the United States today, and it stands to reason that many otherwise unsubstantiated missing persons cases explains some of this. As we learned with the Casey Anthony trial, without remains or a cause of death, cases are very hard to make. That's not what bothers me about the Lauren Spierer case, however.

This whole thing started out as a missing person case, not a homicide investigation. It wasn't a criminal investigation and these students were brought in for interviews, not interrogations. Obviously people have the right to lawyer up and I'm not saying that they don't, but when the Police haven't even confirmed that a crime has been committed and your parents hire Jim Voyles it raises doubts. Not to single him out because another one hired Carl Salzmann, who I'm sure isn't cheap as the former Monroe County Prosecutor (with his own previous scandals if I recall correctly.) Typically conspiracies involving 2 or more people "sworn to secrecy" would have broken down by now so maybe it suggests more a callous CYA mentality than guilt. I'm assuming BPD granted amnesty for whatever states of intoxication everybody was in that night in the interest of resolution, then again community relations has never been a strong asset for BPD so it's hard telling.

To borrow one I heard the other day, "Who takes an accident and makes it look like a murder?"

2011-07-07 13:29:06

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"Exactly how drunk are you to leave your shoes somewhere?"
To this point only, T3: the bar has a faux tiki room with fake palm trees and sand on the floor. It invites bare feet, so she didn't have to be very drunk to take off her flip flops and forget them. In the spirit of fuzzy reality and impaired judgement, bare feet were in the moment.

2011-07-07 14:00:40

W [unverified] said:

Wasn't there a female body found along Eagle Creek in Speedway not far from Zore's auto-yard back in April-May? After the initial media report I've read nothing else. Did this case go down the memory hole?

2011-07-07 17:04:19

ruthholl [Member] said:

Yes, it goes down the memory hole.
I think the only reason we are reading about the body of the African-American woman found in Fall Creek -- a mother will attempt to ID daughter based on a tattoo -- is because of Lauren's disappearance.
Some cases simply get more ink.

2011-07-08 07:35:14

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others as Mr Orwell observed.

Some stories about mising persons are compelling...and some, sadly, are not. Does this mean that by the harsh metrics of news value, some persons are more important of our consderation than others?

Well, duh.

2011-07-08 19:00:13

cranky [unverified] said:

overall, weren't her "friends" suburban kids? I know the kids at DePauw do not explore the countryside. Given their downtown location and her tiny size, I really do not understand why all dumpsters in the area along with the locations where they are dumped were not searched.
Seems Natalie Holloway also separated from her friends. This is risky behavior!

2011-07-08 21:48:40

GaryMillRat [unverified] said:

Shaneice Nicholson, 20. That is the name of the young AA woman whose body was found in Fall Creek, and she was identified Saturday. Not sure how long she has been missing, reports on her disappearance are almost nonexistent in our media. Morgan Johnson has been missing for over a month, as has Dorothy Heard, aged 76 from Noblesville. Can someone explain why the disparity?

2011-07-10 01:02:28

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"Can someone explain why the disparity?"

What needs to be explained? It is the young and affluent that command media attention. The mystery of Mrs Heard is where her nephew disposed of the body. Her age disqualifies her from much attention.

Is Ms Nicholson of an affluent family? If she is, her race will make less difference to the public. But when an AA woman of no particular influence disappears, there is an assumption that she was up to no good and thus was responsible for the foul play that befell her.

In this era of reality tv (though it has always been so, but now more than ever), the Public and thus the Media focus on the youngish and attractiveish, albeit stupidish (wittness Jersey Shores and the various other bits about Wives of Keokuk and so and so).

2011-07-10 07:42:30

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